Tourist posing for photo breaks 19th-century sculpture in Italy

Cheryl Sanders
August 6, 2020

The tourist, whose face is blurred in the footage, leant on the plaster model of the Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, as he posed for a picture during a visit to the Gypsotheca Antonio Canova museum, last Friday.

Police said he was an Austrian man who was part of a group of tourists visiting the museum.

They said the incident happened when the man broke away from his friends to get a selfie while 'sprawled over the statue'.

The report said, in doing so, he broke three toes off the statue's right foot and "there could be further damage to the base of the sculpture that the museum experts still have to ascertain", according to investigators.

Canova was a revered sculptor who lived from 1757-1822 and was famous for his marble statues.

Coronavirus measures mean all museum visitors must leave their personal information for eventual contact tracing in the event tat an outbreak is tied to a museum visit.

According to a press release from Treviso Carabinieri, when contacted by police the man confessed to the "stupid move".

Three toes were damaged, police said.

His "Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as Venus Victrix" is a 1805-1808 marble sculpture.

The museum has been working to restore the sculpture. Made to appear like marble, the 200-year-old plaster was more fragile than it looked.

And in 2013, an American tourist accidentally snapped the finger off a 600-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary at Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence.

But when he executed his plan - as seen on CCTV - he snapped off one of the sculpture's toes in the process.

It's not just artwork occasionally destroyed by tourists - in 2018 an American tourist landed in hot water after damaging an ancient ruin in Pompeii while trying to take the ideal holiday photo.

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